Do dogs wag their tails when they are alone? Of course, WE know the answer to that (because we’re dogs) just as you humans know whether you talk to people who aren’t there. The answer is: no, we do not. Tail wagging is a language, and as with any language, we only use it when we need to communicate with another being.
“Wag” has two main components: position/height and pattern of movement, which includes breadth, speed and even direction. The hard part of interpreting Wag is that position and pattern and direction of movement get combined. We read an article by Dr. Stanley Coren that makes sense of it all. Should you not have time for an immersion class on Wag, these 5 expressions will serve you well:
- Happy, friendly, non-threatening: a broad wag. The happiest wag is one that includes the hips – like a hula dance! The tail definitely wags the dog!
- Back-off, threatening, warning: a high tail. The most threatening is a small, high-speed wag – as if vibrating – with the tail raised high as it can go.
- Positive: a right-leaning wag
- Negative: a left-leaning wag
- Submissive, worried, feeling poorly: the lower the tail, the deeper the feeling
We do hope this helps understand your dog better, as well as any new dogs you encounter on your adventures.
Remember, dogs are people, too!
Your faithful cavaliers,
Happy and Lady Randolph